Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More Good News From The East Side

Advance Indiana reported earlier today that State Representative Larry Buell (R) would not seek re-election next fall. This opens up the race for Democrat John Barnes, who ran a tight race with Buell in 2006 before Republicans launched a misleading negative TV ad campaign that might well have cost Barnes the election in a close contest decided by less than 600 votes.

One of my earliest posts here in the ol' Blog-O-Rama was about Barnes and his run for State Representative. It's a hard thing to run against an entrenched incumbent, but Barnes made a hell of a run - and he's running again in 2008 and will hopefully make an even better run this time around. Even if he does not win, Buell's retirement works to the good by removing from the Statehouse a conservative Brian Bosma acolyte - the less conservatives in office, the better.

The Barnes For State Representative web site seems to have gone dark, but if it ever comes back up, I'll be sure to post a link (not that I imagine many District 89 residents read this blog, but who knows?) Also, if you're into local politics at all, Advance Indiana is a pretty good blog. It's run by a local Republican lawyer called Gary Welsh, who's not really all that bad, for a Republican.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Snatching Victory From The Jaws Of Defeat

The Indiana football Hoosiers managed to hold off the Purdue football Boilermakers on Saturday evening for their seventh win of the season and an increased likelihood that they will be invited to play in a postseason bowl game for the first time since 1993 - which, among other things, was the last time they played in a bowl game, and the last time they won as many as seven games. They went 8-3 that season and have had fewer than six wins in every season since (excepting 1994 and this season).

That was around the time that Osama Brand Laden forced former head coach Bill Mallory out of his job in his bizarre campaign to turn down the volume on college sports and - apparently - make Indiana fans suffer as much as possible. In the space between Mallory and the late Terry Hoeppner, Hoosier Nation had to settle for head coaches Cam Cameron (an NFL offensive coordinator and not a head coach at any level - just ask the Miami Dolphins if you don't believe me) and Gerry Dinardo (who failed utterly in an attempt to install a West Coast-type offense at Indiana - the key to a good West Coast offense is a good passing quarterback, which Indiana rarely manages to recruit).

Then along came Hep, and he changed the football program at Indiana more with his enthusiasm and energy than with any kind of coaching system - by making first his players and then the rest of the students and finally the alumni fans care about Indiana football once again. He made a difference in the lives of his players, too - off the field as well as on it. He turned problem child wide receiver James Hardy around and helped the kid get his life on track. Instead of being a malcontent plagued by off-field legal issues (such as domestic battery charges), Hardy has gotten his head into the game and become one of the two or three most exciting receivers in all of college football, and mark these words: he'll be the best player Indiana University ever sent to the NFL.

Sadly, of course, Coach Hep succumbed to brain cancer this summer, just a few months before the season was to get underway - and was thus unable to watch as his football Hoosiers ran with the "Play 13" motto - with the goal of winning at least six of twelve regular seasons games and thereby earning a thirteenth game, a postseason bowl game. And if not for key turnovers in three of those twelve games (Illinois, Penn State, and Northwestern), this Indiana team might well be 10-2 instead of 7-5 - with the only question being how good a bowl they would play in, not whether they would be invited at all.

But that's okay - seven wins is just fine, and it's a fine place from which to build, as the team has quarterback Kellen Lewis and receiver Hardy for one more season together (provided Hardy elects to stay in school for his senior year and not go pro); and if Lewis learns to protect the ball a little more, it's going to be an exciting fall for Hoosier Nation next season.

So once again, thanks to the late, great Coach Terry Hoeppner - for putting some spark back in Indiana University football. Wherever you are, coach, I hope you've watched, with well-deserved pride, the show those kids have put on this year (assuming you had the Big Ten Network, of course).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wayman Tisdale At Madame Walker - November 17th

Just a quick post on something I came across on the Star's website this afternoon. Former Indiana Pacer Wayman Tisdale is playing the Madame Walker Theatre this Saturday (11/17) at 8pm.

He's been making jazz records now for years and years, and his stuff is pretty good. He uses bass guitar as his primary instrument, and it lends the music a really funky kind of sound. I haven't heard much of it, but he was featured on NPR awhile back and they played some songs from a new record he has coming out.

Click here for a brief interview with Tisdale that was posted on the Star's website. I have to work all day Saturday, but one of these days I'm going to catch him when he comes to town. You can also check out his official website - and get a taste of the music playing in the background, too.

Of Burritos And Birthdays

Got an e-mail from Qdoba the other day - you know, the burrito place? They have one of those loyalty card deals and I signed up for official Qdoba e-mail when I registered my card online. (Oh yes, it's just as exciting as it sounds.) Anyway, my birthday is coming up, and they sent me an e-mail offering a free burrito because it was my birthday. Actual offer: free burrito or other entrée if I purchase another burrito or entrée of equal or greater value.

Okay...I can barely get one burrito down, and that's if I leave off the beans and request that they go easy on the rice. If I'm really hungry, I can put down some chips and guac with that - if I'm really hungry. And by really hungry, I mean it's time for Jeopardy! and I haven't eaten yet that day. Two burritos? No way.

But that's not the point. Actually, there's not really a point at all - just an amusing little bit at the end of the e-mail where they put in the fine print. What follows is what it actually says at the end of this e-mail - and with a tip of the hat to Dave Barry, I swear that I'm not making this up. Down there in the fine print it says:

Limit one birthday per year.

Seriously. That's what it says. Limit one birthday per year. Not "one offer per customer per year," or "offer not valid in conjunction with astrological phenomena that indicate that you lead a parallel life on Venus and are thereby entitled to double burrito action." (Not that there is a Qdoba on Venus, although I did hear that a Starbucks is opening soon, right next door to the first interplanetary Quiznos.)

Limit one birthday per year, people. That is all.

Trampled Under Bluegrass

I picked up the newest issue of Paste the other day in part because the sampler CD had one of the songs from the new album Raising Sand, a collection of lesser-known tunes in a wide range of musical styles, recorded by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

Yeah - I did a double-take, too, the first time I heard about it. I know Alison Krauss isn’t really country, but she’s close - and it was sort of hard to imagine Robert Plant singing songs with a country person. I don’t like country music, but it’s mostly because of the hillbilly culture and nimrods like Toby Keith and Kenny Chesney. Once in awhile you find some real musical talent (Johnny Cash, pre-Sevens Garth Brooks, post-Fly Dixie Chicks), but mostly it’s crap.

And yet even with the quasi-country stigma, I was intrigued, somehow, as I was not intrigued by other country-normal music collaborations like recent records by Jimmy Buffett and Joan Osborne and the new album by the Eagles that supposedly hearkens back to their quasi-country roots. (Actually, I am intrigued by the new Eagles album, but being a principled person possessed of a soul I do not shop at Wal-Mart, which is supposedly the only place it’s being sold.)

So I spun the sample disc on the way to work yesterday, and damn! The song on the sampler is the fifth track on the record, an Everly Brothers number called “Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On),” and it was so good that I went out and bought the album today. I’m going through the first spin of the album as I am writing this, and it’s pretty solid so far. When I imported it into iTunes, it was tagged as “blues,” but I don’t know if that really hits it on the head.

Plant’s voice sounds pretty good after all these years, although the high wails from the Zeppelin days are no more, of course; and the harmonies are really good, especially on that Everly Brothers song, which rocks out in a dark way that I don’t imagine the Everly Brothers themselves ever really tapped into. There’s a bluesy undertone there, and a bit of country going on, too, in places (slide guitar!) on some of the other tracks; but what comes through any attempt at categorization is the fine vocalization, like they picked a wide range of styles in which to show off how well it turns out they can sing together.

It vaguely brings to mind the Bob Dylan album Desire (best known for containing the song “Hurricane,” though that song seems out of place when juxtaposed against the rest of the album - in much the same way that “One Of Us” seems out of place on Joan Osborne’s Relish), which is not precisely a duet album (Emmylou Harris contributes backing vocals to all the tracks), but features the same kind of intimate interplay in the vocals and harmonies.

Addendum: Did you click on the link to Paste magazine up there at the top? I did, to make sure the link worked, and there's a poll question on there asking what your favorite Led Zeppelin album is. I didn't much want to click on it, because I was afraid that the results would be overwhelmingly in favor of IV, which is good but which, thanks to Q95 and fucking Cadillac, I don't ever need to hear again. I clicked anyway - and sure enough, IV got the most votes, but was not the ovverwhelming favorite. Close behind were Houses Of The Holy and II, which got my vote.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Are Records Being Set Tonight?

So is throwing three interceptions in one quarter a record? How about a kickoff return and a punt return for a touchdown in the same quarter as those three picks?

(And as I'm writing this, he threw a fourth pick!)

But back to the first three and those two return touchdowns - if that's not some kind of record, then what if you add that the same guy ran back the two touchdowns?

Make no mistake, all of this is bad. Manning clearly was badly rattled by the Patriots game last week when he was also awful - and he has also clearly returned to the form he was in several years ago when he would completely lose his composure after one or two little mistakes.

But you know what's worse? Having to listen to Will Wolford do the color commentary on 97.1 FM. I used to think having to listen to Mark Herrman and Ted Marchibroda was bad, but having to listen to Will Wolford's cowboy mouth is even worse. Will, when you speak the word "time," you put a long-I sound in there. It's not tah-ahm, and it's not two syllables, honky-tonk.

So how far down do the Colts drop in the ESPN Power Rankings? Dallas goes up to #2, obviously; and Green Bay probably goes to three. Is Pittsburgh good enough to sneak up to four? I don't see the Colts dropping farther than fifth, but this is obviously a team with a lot of flaws and very little discipline.